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article imageAlberta Wildrose leader calls for referendum on debt increase

By Andrew Moran     Nov 21, 2012 in Politics
Calgary - Alberta Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is urging Premier Alison Redford to establish a referendum on raising the debt increase. Smith noted that the premier does not have a mandate from its residents of taking Alberta back into debt.
If the province of Alberta takes on more debt, will it head off a fiscal cliff like Greece? The Wildrose Party leader suggested in her remarks that the Progressive Conservatives are taking on debt after generating $10 billion worth of resource revenue and spending billions of dollars of its savings.
“The level of incompetence on the fiscal side is stunning,” said Smith, reports the National Post. “They’re marching down the same path that so many jurisdictions around the world have marched down that has gotten them to the brink of insolvency.”
During the February budget and in the spring election campaign, Redford promised that the budget would be balanced by 2013-2014, but earlier this month at a Progressive Conservative party convention in Calgary, the premier said only the operations aspects would be balanced.
In order to pay for expensive capital projects in the growing province, like hospitals and schools, Finance Minister Doug Horner said Alberta may take on more debt or initiate private sector agreements.
Before the provincial government moves forward, Smith recommended the premier to take the issue to the taxpayers and have a referendum on whether or not Alberta should take on debt or not.
“If [the Tories] told Albertans ’We’re going to buy things today and put the mortgage on our kids and our grandkids, I can assure you they would not have won the election,” Smith told reporters. “It’s like Ralph Klein and Jim Dinning never existed for the PCs. Everyone was so proud of what Ralph Klein did for us going through the sacrifices of the 1990s to make us a debt-free province.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) warned that the Tories will send Alberta back into red with their infrastructure projects. CTF-Alberta director Derek Fildebrandt urged Redford and the PCs to balance the budget first.
“The Premier is throwing Ralph Klein’s legacy and her party’s greatest achievement under the bus. Once a government has broken the seal on debt, it’s very difficult to stop,” said Fildebrandt in a news release.
“If everything we do right now is funded fully with cash in the bank, then we are never going to build anything more in this province. Apparently the Premier has forgotten about the staggering $38.6 billion this government has spent on capital projects over the past six years. Nearly all of which was ‘funded fully with cash in the bank.’”
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